Is the experience of shopping a fading trend?

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In today’s economy, spending room on luxuries can be tight, so being able to shop for yourself and enjoy some “retail therapy” should be an enjoyable experience.

This is why I wanted to take a moment to remind retailers of an important tip: don’t harass your potential customers.

I walked into a local drugstore the other day and within the span of two minutes, I was bombarded by at least four people.

Instead of feeling at ease, I found myself suffocating and feverishly turning my head from one salesperson to another:

“Hi, can I help you with something?”

“Hi, just to let you know, we have a sale where certain items are 10% off.”

“Hi, I just bought that lotion you are looking at. It’s amazing and I highly recommend it.”

At this point, and all I could think of was, how fast can I get out here?!

After half-heartedly looking around and forgetting what I had come in to buy in the first place, I ended up just leaving the store, annoyed and dissatisfied.

Whatever happened to just delivering a warm welcome and then allowing the customer to actually begin their shopping experience?

Interrogating potential consumers not only takes away from the enjoyment of shopping, but it puts a negative spin on the concept of good customer service. There is such a thing as overdoing it.

With how expensive everything is these days and depending on what you are buying, we as consumers need time to think our purchases through. We don’t need a sales representative pressuring us every few minutes to make a decision, because guess what is going to happen? We will get exasperated and leave empty-handed, not because we didn’t find anything we liked, but because the store staff would have made the experience of shopping intolerable by their excessive, commission-driven offers to “help”.

By playing the game of “Attack The Would-be Customer The Minute They Walk In”, you inadvertently drive away potential business for your store. Ironic, isn’t it?

Of course, I am not advocating a scenario where a consumer should never be approached either. Offering no help at all is just has bad. The key is finding that fine balance between delivering great customer service without hounding the consumer. I worked in retail myself for years so I know first-hand how important it is to ensure your customers have a satisfying experience.

So what constitutes a good shopping experience?

For me, a good shopping experience includes being greeted with a friendly smile, and then only after having allowed the customer a few minutes to absorb their surroundings, extend any offers for help. If we tell you we are just browsing then let us be. If we need help at that point, we will ask.

It’s that simple.

If you leave us alone and give us a chance to think and mull over our options, then we might actually buy something (with or without the added help) but at least you would have earned your commission more honestly and can have the satisfaction of knowing that your customer has left the store not only with a bag or two in hand, but with a satisfied smile on their face – which can easily be transformed into a positive online review for the store, word-of-mouth recommendation and generally enhance the store’s overall reputation.

Bottom line: just let us shop in peace. In the end, it’s not about whether or not something is bought, or how great the store discounts are: it’s about the experience – and if it’s a positive one, that is what will ultimately keep the customer coming back.

Have you had any memorable (good or bad) shopping experiences? Share your stories!

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2 thoughts on “Is the experience of shopping a fading trend?

  1. My most positive shopping experience began in late September of 2014. After losing quite a bit of weight, I thought about buying a bicycle. After reading a bunch of magazines, I found a bunch of bikes I wanted to look at. This led me to a shop. While there, the owner spent more than an hour answering all my questions and showing me everything I would have to think about when buying a bike.
    I thought so much of this experience that I wrote to the bicycle manufacturer to tell them what a good job they had done–usually people write about complaints, but I am much happier and feel better when I write or call to compliment a service I have received.
    Subsequently, I went back to the shop and test drove several bikes. I picked one and have had great service there ever since. I love my bike and always speak well of the shop.
    As for bad experiences–they are too numerous to list. The one that springs to mind is when I was in the market for a new car. I fell in love with the Honda Fit (and fell in like with one of the saleswomen–but that is just another story of unrequited like). I really liked the car and probably would have purchased it if not for the salespeople (not my unrequited like, but several others, and I mean several) pushing me to lease the vehicle. Their loss.

  2. Thank you for sharing! Yes, it really is all about how you’re made to feel in the end. A positive experience results in a positive ripple effect in the form of good reviews and brand loyalty. 🙂

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